Baby Boy (2001) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Baby Boy (2001) stars Tyrese as a young black man who has a daughter by one woman, a son by another, and lives at home with his mother. It is the story of how he finally manages to become a man, which is no easy thing in the hood. Definitely a character-driven drama, it was still compelling through the entire 129 minutes. 

Director John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood) made a very different film this  time -- one which focuses on relationships rather than gang violence. He seems to be saying, yes, the prejudice you face is one of the reasons life  is tough, but if you would not father a bunch of kids out of wedlock, and think about getting a real job, it would not be as bad.  

This film is not for everyone, but is very well made.

Scoopy's notes in yellow: 

I  thought it was excellent, despite the fact that I took a big dump on John Singleton's last movie (Shaft). I guess Shaft served its purpose. It showed Hollywood that John Singleton could make a commercially viable film (it grossed $70 million), and that enabled him to continue making somewhat more worthwhile films with deeper themes. 


Three women show their breasts

Tamara LaSeon Bass when she is surprised in the shower

Taraji P. Henson in a very hot sex scene. (and outtakes from this scene on the DVD)

Adrienne-Joi Johnson exposes a breast fleetingly, but also has a hot sex scene elsewhere in the movie Although no nudity is seen from her at that point, the side of Ving Rhames' butt is seen

Two men show their butts:

Ving Rhames rear is also seen square-on as he cooks breakfast naked.

The side of Tyrese's Gibson's butt is seen in the famous "womb" pose, and a clear look at his whole butt is seen in a sex scene

There was some dispute about the higher sociological significance of Baby Boy, with forces lining up for an against the film's wider application to the black experience.

Frankly, I don't know jack about that issue, and I'm not much interested in the sociological issues anyway. I think it tells a moving and compelling story about a guy who is a manchild. He is still living at home with his mamma, still playing with his own toys, while he is watching his kids play with theirs. He's has fathered children with two different women, yet he has no job, no car, and no prospects.

The lead character, Baby Boy (Jody) is not a bad person at all, just an irresponsible kid who hasn't squarely faced the adult world, even though he's sampled some of its pleasures. He just has a lot of growing up to do. In the course of the film he gets a chance to leave the womb, and there is some hope for him at the end, which provides a cathartic resolution to a story which seems to be filled with hopelessness on the journey. We want to see some hope for him and Yvette, and some of the other characters, because they deserve some and are willing to earn it.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • Full-length director commentary

  • Making-of featurette

  • deleted and alternate scenes

  • outtakes and music video

In terms of deeper sociological meaning, the one "message" that was clearly implied by the script was that the problems shown here are the character's problems and they require the character's solutions. There are really no European or Asian or Latin people anywhere in the film, and there is no significant presence of upper middle class characters from any race, black included. It's just a completely self-contained world in which the characters have to find their own resolutions within the defined context. It's like a math problem - the characters have the "givens", and they can't reach outside them for help or blame. I think it is safe to infer that the filmmaker means that people need to take responsibility for their own actions, and help out their friends and neighbors when they can.

It seemed to me that the acting, musical score and photography were handled in solid harmony by the director, producing a powerful emotional impact.

And, as far as I'm concerned, that's what moviemakin' is all about.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3.5/4, Berardinelli 3/4, 

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 69% positive reviews, 82% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.6 
  • With their dollars ... it was a somewhat unanticipated box office success, with $29 million in domestic gross compared to a $16 million budget.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Tuna evaluates this film as a C+, Scoop says a B-. Not for everybody, but I think it has appeal even to people who would not normally watch this type of story. Nice job by the Vingster as mamma's boyfriend!

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